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Against the odds: health care in an informal settlement in Durban

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In Durban, one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, the demands of accelerated urbanisation, particularly with regard to health care, are compounded by the legacy of apartheid planning. This has resulted in health service provision being fragmented along racial, administrative financial and spatial lines. While urbanisation offers the promise of improved opportunities and a better lifestyle, the newly urbanised poor generally find themselves living in conditions which are detrimental to their health. The majority of newly urbanised blacks are forced to live in informal settlements which lack basic amenities such as water and sanitation – living conditions which create a whole network of ill health. This article examines health conditions in Canaan, an informal settlement in Durban. The focus will be on nutrition, sanitation, health status and access to health care delivery. The study revealed that Canaan did not have piped sewerage or indoor water. The diets of residents were lacking in protein and their main source of food was carbohydrates. The most prevalent disease was tuberculosis (TB), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), asthma and diarrhoea. All these diseases, apart from the STDs, are related to poor socio-economic conditions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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